Ya Bang! The Top 10 Movie Explosions

I love it when a plan comes together – especially one that involves a rollicking good explosion. And in this day and age, the big bang has become an integral part of blockbuster movies. What summer is complete without a few mighty explosions to shake us off our cinema seats? It’s become such a staple that the big name directors have to deliver some bang for our buck – the likes of Michael Bay would be out of a job if it wasn’t for the movie explosion. With the all-action spectacle THE A-TEAM about to hit the DVD shelves, now is an appropriate time to look back at the ten best explosions in movie history…

10. SPEED (1994)

There was never any doubt that Speed would go out with a bang – Keanu as abomb-disposal expert, Dennis Hopper as a psychotic explosives nut, a bomb on the bus – you know the drill. Of course, there was only one way this was ever going to end. The big question was whether Keanu could clear the twenty or so passengers off the bus before the whole thing went sky high.

In typical Keanu fashion, he saves the day, but not before directing the bus into the path of an airliner, destroying both in one almighty explosion. Let’s just hope the plane was empty – seems a shame to save the lives of twenty commuters only to blow up another few thousand…

9. JAWS (1975)

A countdown of top movie explosions is surely incomplete without at least a passing reference to the original blockbuster.

Spielberg’s adaptation of the Peter Benchley novel is a rare beast: a movie that manages to top the book in every way.

In bringing the story to the big screen, Spielberg made a few changes, and none so prominent as the movie’s climax. Whereas the titular shark of the book fades away quietly from the result of some nifty harpooning, Spielberg and screenwriter Carl Gottileb opted for something far more… well, cinematic.

With Hooper lost at sea and presumed dead, Quint chomped in two, and Chief Brody alone on a sinking ship, what better way to finish off the giant shark than shoving a canister of compressed air in its mouth and blowing it –

Smile you son of a bitch.

Boom.

8. CON AIR (1997)

Say what you will about Con Air, but it does have some bloody good action. With the meanest collection of convicts brought together for one hell of a connecting flight, something had to give somewhere down the road.

With do-gooder Cameron Poe (Nic Cage) rummaging around a disused gas station to find some insulin (yeah right) for his best bud, and trying to prove that ‘God does exist’, even a plane crash to the face couldn’t stop him. What does prove problematic, however, is Cyrus the Virus (John Malkovich) igniting the gas station to teach a treacherous Mexican drug lord a lesson (they just can’t be trusted, so it seems). Still, Poe manages to walk away from the big bang virtually unscathed and saves the f*cking day, as promised.

And all in slow motion.

7. AIRPLANE (1980)

So you didn’t think the greatest ever comedy would turn up on the list? Surely you can’t be serious?

Poor Ted Striker can’t cut a break – his beloved Elaine has left him, he has to cope with his drinking problem, and he’s been boring his fellow passengers to the point of suicide.

Ted is so engrossed in his past (‘I never wanted it to end… I guess I still don’t’) that he doesn’t notice the man in the next seat dousing himself in petrol. When Ted is dragged away by a stewardess it looks as though the reluctant listener might survive after all. As long as he doesn’t drop his match. Oops.

6. ROBOCOP (1987)

‘I know you… you’re dead… we killed you… we killed you!’

So far Emil’s had a great night – he’s rolled into a gas station, filled up for free, robbed some cash from the register, and even managed to make fun of the attendant a bit (‘I bet you think you’re pretty smart… think you can outsmart a bullet?’) – but it all goes terribly wrong.

Faced with the resurrected cop he and his chums blew to smithereens not so long ago, he gets his ass handed to him by Murphy before crashing his motorcycle big style. But not before firing a few rounds off into a gas pump and kick starting one of the greatest explosions ever.

5. STAR WARS (1977)

Darth Vader must have been pleased as punch after blowing up Alderaan. Demonstrating the destructive capabilities of his very own Death Star, there was no doubt who the ‘man’ truly was in a Galaxy far, far away.

How short lived his moment in the sun was, as smug little bugger Luke Skywalker soon turned up to show off some destructive capabilities of his own.

Say what you will about the Death Star – fortress of evil, sure – but quite an achievement in terms of construction and architecture. Something that impressive could only go out with a bang. And what a bang that was –  the explosive conclusion to the battle of Yavin – undoubtedly one of the defining moments of the original Star Wars trilogy.

4. PREDATOR (1987)

A pure killing machine such as the Predator was never going to go out like a sucker. With an unparalleled bloodlust, it was inevitable that the Predator would find a way to kill and maim right to the bitter end.

As Arnie puts on the moves and spells out the end, the Predator sets in motion the countdown to an explosion that threatens to take them both out. A kind of if I’m going down, I’m taking you down with me attitude. Well, Arnie had just called him ugly.

The explosion is so devastating that from the air in looks like an atomic bomb has been set off. Naturally, Arnie survives – in fact he appears to still be on his feet as the smoke clears. What a guy.

3. INDEPENDENCE DAY (2008)

Independence Day was big news when it originally hit cinema screens – and rightly so. Though it’s cheesy as hell and has the Americana overkill, there’s something ultimately likable about the movie.

And that may be the bloody great explosions that the badass E.T.’s deliver the world over, exterminating most of the population (though not Will Smith’s family). The big one of course, is the destruction of the White House, a moment so bold that the whole movie was marketed on the back of it.

Let’s hope the upcoming sequel can match this landmark explosion. Buckingham Palace anyone?

2. APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)

The explosion has come be recognised as an iconic feature of film, and they don’t come much more iconic than this. Helicopters swooping onto the beach, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries blaring, and bombs dropped on Charlie left, right, and centre. As frightening as it is exciting, there’s no doubt that this sequence will live on as one of most memorable in cinematic history. And, of course, who doesn’t love the smell of napalm in the morning?

1. DIE HARD (1988)

Here’s a string of words that no one can ever tire of using –

Bruce Willis in a vest jumping away from a massive explosion off a skyscraper in slow motion with a fire hose tied around his waist.

Case closed.

 

The A-Team is released on DVD 29th November.

Tom Fordy is a writer and journalist from Bristol. He is a regular contributor to The Hollywood News, Loaded, and Zip magazine, where he puts his years of movie addiciton to bloody good use. He is also the founder and sole reader of adult humour blog FilmC*nt. Tom Fordy now lives in East London with his partner, son, and massive collection of pointless crap. He plans to eat himself to death very soon.

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